This post is the second of a three-part series on tactical shotguns for self-defense in the home. The focus of today’s post is on specific models of tactical shotguns. Be advised that some of these models might not be legal in your locality. Check your local laws. Certain shotgun features are restricted under the NFA (national firearms act); see the ATF page on this topic. For example, a shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches falls under NFA restrictions.
There are very many models of shotguns on the market today. I’m going to emphasize the less expensive tactical models, especially those with several useful features. Sometime gun manufacturers overuse the term “tactical”. Marketing hype aside, I’ll try to discern the models and features that are most helpful for home defense. If I miss your favorite model, feel free to mention it in the comments. All prices mentioned in this article are current approximate list pricing, as of this writing, not guaranteed, subject to change.
Benelli is a top shotgun manufacturer, offering many different lines and models of shotgun. However, their excellent M2, M3, and M4 models all list for over $1,200. Fortunately, Benelli offers a moderately priced line of tactical shotguns, the base model of the Nova Tactical Shotgun lists at $419. The tactical features of this pump-action shotgun include ghost ring sights and a receiver that is drilled and tapped for a Weaver base. The gun’s capacity is 4+1, which complies with some of the more restrictive State laws. Barrel length is 18.5 inches. The top-of-the line Nova is the H2O model, with nickel plating for rust resistance, listing for under $700.
Beretta has many models of hunting and competition shotguns, and these tend to be expensive, with most models in the range of $1200 to $1900. Their lone tactical/self-defense shotgun is the TX4 Storm, a semi-auto gas operated gun with an 18.5 inch barrel and a 5+1 capacity. The gas system is design to function reliably with a wide range of ammo, from low recoil to full power shells. Tactical features include an installed Picatinny rail and included ghost ring sights. The stock is fixed, but the length of pull may be adjusted with one-half inch spacers; this approach avoids running afoul of laws that prohibit telescoping stocks. The main disadvantage to this shotgun: it lists for around $1450.
Browning has 10 lines of shotguns but nothing that I would consider to be in the realm of tactical or home defense. They do make a .410 gauge shotgun with a 20-inch barrel. You could use it for self-defense, I guess. It’s more of a youth gun, though. I’m surprised that a company with so many popular shotguns has not attempted to broach the law enforcement and home defense market.
FNH USA offers a reasonably priced (under $700) tactical pump-action shotgun called the FN P-12. Most shotguns with a cantilever rail attached to the barrel are deer-hunting guns with a rifled barrel. The P-12 is smooth-bore, which is what you want for self-defense. The rail is perfect for mounting a red dot sight. But the gun also has a fiber-optic front sight and flip-up iron sight. It’s 18-inch barrel length is the minimum you can have on a shotgun without needing ATF approval for an NFA weapon. The 5+1 capacity makes it legal in states that limit magazine length to 5 shotgun rounds.
Mossberg has long been known for their low-priced shotguns. But over the years, they have moved more and more upscale. They have a large number of tactical and home defense model shotguns. One of the more interesting offerings is called the 590A1 Blackwater Series. It’s a 12-gauge with a 3″ chamber. The capacity is whopping 8+1. The barrel is longer than most other tactical shotguns at 20″ (necessary to accommodate the longer tubular magazine). They do make a 5+1 model with an 18.5″ barrel, though. Rails are found on the top, bottom, and sides. The top rail has a ghost ring sight. The stock has extra storage for more shells. MSRP is just over $700. It’s a good-looking, tactical-feature heavy shotgun.
Remington has several good tactical model shotguns. The autoloaders are outside my price range. I think a home defense shotgun should cost under $700. The Model 870 Express Tactical is the tactical version of the storied 870 model, considered one of the most popular and most reliable shotguns of all time. Here’s a quick overview of the 870 line by Chuck Hawks. Over 10 million 870s have been sold worldwide. The basic model of the tactical 870 lists for under $600. It includes an 18.5 inch barrel, ghost ring sights built into the top rail. Sling swivel studs are a nice extra. Capacity is 7+1 (so check your local laws). A pistol grip version is also available, with or without desert-style camo. The 887 model is an update to the 870 line which adds a “Rugged ArmorLokt coating” aimed at preventing rust on exterior surfaces. The 887 tactical is also reasonably priced at under $600.
Weatherby is well-known for their rifles, but they also have a line of what they call “threat response” shotguns. These are available in three types: pump-action ($399 list), pump-action with pistol grip ($499), and semi-auto with pistol grip ($599). These are 5+1 capacity shotguns designed for self-defense. The pistol grip models have a rail and ghost ring sights. The semi-auto has a removable valve that controls the cycling. Two valves are available, one for lighter loads and one for full-power loads. The idea is to improve reliability by choosing the right valve for the job. I suppose if you have a preferred self-defense round, you can determine the right valve and thereby increase the reliability of the gun. It’s an inexpensive route to a more reliable semi-auto. But I’d stick with the pump action.
Winchester Repeating Arms offers a shotgun line called SXP that includes several “Defender” models as well as several hunting models. The top of the line model for self-defense is the SXP Extreme Marine Defender. The Marine designation indicates a hard-chrome plating that protects metal parts from the elements. The model has a pistol grip, top rail with integrated ghost sight and small side rails. The AR-looking stock is NOT adjustable for pull, but includes an adjustable cheek piece. List price is under $600. Lower priced models are available without the pistol grip and/or without the chrome finish.