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Best Tactical Shotgun for Home Defense [2022]

FIND THE BEST SHOTGUN FOR ANY SITUATION. WE’LL TAKE THE MYSTERY OUT OF CHOOSING WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.

Home defense tactical shotguns are simple and easy to use, one of the classic home-defense options that just don’t let you down. Finding the right one for you might take a little thought and time, but there is a shotgun out there for everyone.

We’ll dig into what you need to know and our top recommendations.

WHY SHOTGUNS FOR HOME DEFENSE?

Popular myth holds that the mere sound of a shotgun pumping a shell into the chamber is enough to scare even the most hardened criminals into submission and retreat. This is nonsense. 

A shotgun might be the classic and most recognizable home defense tool, but it is not the definitive best. Still, it has many advantages and remains a popular opinion.

The greatest strength of a shotgun is the undeniable “stopping power” of 9 to 24 lead balls moving at 1,300+ feet per second.

While “stopping power” isn’t a real metric, it’s the easiest way of describing the raw lethal power a shotgun can lay down.

It would be foolish to claim that a shotgun delivers a guaranteed one-shot stop, but you certainly improve your odds of hitting vitals and neutralizing a threat.

Shotguns are also easily customizable, to a degree that is hard-matched by other platforms. Do you want more power? Use 00 Buck. Worried about overpenetration through drywall? Use #4 Buck. Need to engage wild animals at range? 1-ounce slugs send a real message even at 100 yards.

While other weapons might require expensive new uppers, barrel conversions, or more — a shotgun is tailored to your situation almost exclusively through the use of different shotshells.

Lastly, shotguns are reliable. So are other platforms, but shotguns even more so. Even a very inexpensive shotgun is still incredibly reliable. The same can’t be said for the cheapest AR-15 or 9mm pistol on the market.

SEMI VS. PUMP

One of the first choices you’ll need to make is between semi-auto and pump-action.

Pump-action shotguns are insanely reliable. They don’t care what you feed them, they’ll shuck out shells and feed in new ones every time you rack the pump.

Rain, shine, snow, or dust storms — a pump gun works. 

Pile of shotguns shotgun shell holder shotgun accessories
Whatever your needs, there’s an on-board ammo carriage option that should meet them.

Pumps are also, normally, significantly less expensive compared to semi-auto shotguns. 

However, pump shotguns require more training to run correctly. Their weakest link mechanically is the shooter. While placing the shooter in control of providing the energy needed to eject and feed new shells, this also means if you pump the gun wrong you’ll cause a difficult-to-clear malfunction.

SEMI-AUTO SHOTGUNS

Pump shotguns might be the most trusted firearm in the nation, but semi-auto shotguns are not far behind. Trusted by every branch of the military and almost every other military on the planet, semi-auto shotguns are a well-proven technology that has matured into some amazing designs.

The huge benefit the semi-auto gives you is significantly less recoil and a much higher rate of fire. Since semi-auto guns are normally heavier they help soak recoil from the start. Gas shotguns take this further since they require some of the gas produced in firing to cycle their actions.

asgard defense shotgun
Asgard defense shotgun

Semi-autos are also easier to get the hang of since there is no pump to cycle after every shot. Even when you’re stressed and fighting for your life, all you need to do is pull the trigger.

This also results in a much higher rate of fire. When sending lead downrange is the goal, nothing says victory through volume like a semi-auto shotgun.

One downside is semi-auto shotguns need some testing and maybe some adjustment to run reliably. This entirely depends on the design of the gun and what load you want to use, but it might take some fiddling. 

Generally, if you’re sticking with buckshot of any kind there won’t be an issue even right out of the box.

Semi-autos also need more cleaning and lubrication. You won’t have to clean them after every single range session, but you can’t ignore them for years like a pump action.

THE SHOTGUN THAT IS BEST FOR YOU IS…

Honestly, I can’t answer that. Both designs have pros and cons and it really just depends on what you want most from your gun. Personally, I like both styles and I own both styles. 

If I was going to reach for just one to defend my home, I would probably grab a semi-auto. But I’ve also had the luxury of spending a lot of time shooting one on the range and getting to know it inside out.

If you want a KISS solution, a pump-action cannot be beaten.

UNDERSTANDING SHOT SPREAD

One of the most pervasive and dumbest myths in the firearms world is how much shotgun shot will spread. The facts of the matter prove that you cannot just spray a shotgun in the general direction of your attacker and count on the spread to do the work for you.

Hard fact: shot only spreads between 1/3rd of an inch to 1 inch per yard, depending on the choke and the wad design. 

Unless you live in a big, big house, you’re not likely to have any line of sight long enough for spread to play a significant factor.

For example, my house is about 1,400 sq.ft. My average slight line is about 4 yards (12 feet). I have one hallway that reaches a little over 10 yards but only if a door is open.

That means my shot spread will average about 1 1/2 inches — normally much smaller. The largest it will ever be is just over 3 inches.

Your home will differ, but you get the idea.

Shot spreads enough to make it more lethal if you connect a solid hit, but it does not spread enough at home-defense distances to make up for bad shooting.

Aim your shotgun!

BEST HOME DEFENSE TACTICAL SHOTGUNS

Beretta 1301

Beretta is the oldest firearms manufacturer in the world with over 400 years of experience. Now sure, for most of that time they were making cast-iron cannons — but it’s a cool backstory at least.

The 1301 might be the hottest-ticket shotgun right now because of its newest-generation updates that take an already great gun into legendary status.

Beretta 1301 home defense tactical shotgun
Beretta 1301 Competition

While this isn’t my favorite shotgun to look at, unless it’s in OD Green, this is a beast of a gun you cannot go wrong with.

Beretta’s integrated BLINK gas system means this gun cycles 36-percent faster than other semi-auto shotguns. This directly translates into the ability to lay down more lead on your target.

The stock comes in several flavors from traditional hunting grip to a tactical pistol grip. Ghost ring sights come standard but the 1301 also comes with a 1913 rail on top to mount your favorite optic to.

Oversized controls and oversized loading port make operation simple, even when you’re stressed.

Something I’ve always loved about Beretta shotguns is the company's attention to ergonomics. Even shooting large slugs this gun soaks up recoil better than expected. 

MSRP is $1,430 or $1,450 for the pistol grip model.

Benelli M4

Trusted by the USMC for decades now, the Benelli M4 has a cult-like following, and for good reason. If you want a “go-to-war” shotgun, this is definitively it.

One of the best-made and most respected firearms in the world, the Benelli M4 was one of the first semi-auto shotguns to prove it could handle even the harshest environments and the most brutal treatment.

Mesa Tactical Benelli M4
Mesa Tactical Benelli M4

Benelli's ARGO (Auto-Regulating Gas-Operated) piston system was a huge leap forward in shotgun design and makes it so that the M4 can be fed basically any type of ammo and function 100 percent of the time with zero adjustments.

Gas operated means it soaks more recoil, further making this a badass shotgun.

Coming standard with ghost ring sights, the M4 also has a 1913 rail for the red dot of your choice.

My only complaint about the M4 is it hasn't been revised to include oversized control — the trend in this class of firearm. To me, the loading port feels a bit small and the charging handle is not as ergonomic as I would like.

Thankfully, the aftermarket support for the M4 is massive and it’s easy to make upgrades if you want. The Masa Tactical M4 is a good example of a tricked-out home defense tactical shotgun.

MSRP is $2,100+

Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical

A pillar of the pump shotgun world for longer than I've been alive, Mossberg has never really “Wow'd” the firearms community with their semi-auto guns. Until its 900 line, at least.

The latest version to hit the market, the 940 has quickly become a staple of the shotgun world and has really impressed us. Possibly their finest offering of the 940 line is the Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical.

Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical dumpster
Federal FliteControl buckshot corresponds almost exactly to Holosun’s reticle — perfect for defending your dumpster.

With an 18.5-inch barrel, gas-operated semi-auto operation, 12-gauge chambering and accepting both 2-3/4- and 3-inch shells, the 940 Pro Tac has a hidden asset. It's able to load 7 in the tube, 1 in the chamber, and 1 more ghost loaded into the carrier for a total of 9 shells on tap.

Put another way, that’s 81 pellets of 00 buckshot, 189 pellets of #4 buck, or nearly 4,000 grains of lead if you’re slinging slugs.

If you're looking for home defense overmatch, this is a compelling option.

All of this said and we haven't even named off half the features yet. It boasts oversized controls, comes threaded for Accu-Choke tubes and has a red fiber optic front bead. Additionally, a Shield RMSc-pattern mini-red-dot cut made directly into the receiver gives it the ability to accept the perfect sighting option for a home-defense firearm.

Bottom line, this is a beast of a shotgun. Read more about this juggernaut in our hands-on review of the Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical.
MSRP is just $1,150.

Remington 870

The Remington 870 might be the most classic and recognizable shotgun ever made and for good reason — this gun works. Always.

In recent years, Remington's quality has taken a dip, but thankfully much of this has been resolved from what I’ve seen. This is great news since this is one of the best firearms ever made.

Vang Comp Systems Remington 870 home defense tactical shotgun
Vang Comp Systems Remington 870

Simple, robust, easy to use, easy to shoot. There really isn’t anything else to say about this keystone firearm.

Because of how prolific the 870 is there are over a dozen models currently produced. While that gives a lot of options, you don’t need to worry about most of them. 

My two recommendations are the Remington 870 Hardwood Defense, outfitted with an 18.5-inch barrel, wood furniture and bead front sight. Simple, classic, very nice.

However, wood isn’t the best for keeping a great grip on your gun and it doesn’t give you options for mounting a light or optics.

For a more tactical approach, the 870 Tactical Magpul is a much better option. M-LOK mounting points for lights, ghost sights on top with 1913 railing for a red dot, plus all of the robust reliability that you expect.

MSRP is $350 for the hardwood and $580 for the Tactical Magpul

Mossberg 500/590

Personally, I like the Mossberg 500 and 590 better than the Remington 870 simply because Mossberg has delivered a very constant and very reliable product forever. During good times and bad times, Mossberg is one of the most dependable names in the home-defense tactical shotgun world. I also like their controls a little better, but that’s minor.

Mossberg-500-Magpul-Breacher
Mossberg 500 Magpul

Both the 500 and 590 are great options. I recommend the 590 if possible since it comes with a larger magazine tube. However, the 500 is a little less expensive.

Both are simple pump-action shotguns with unbeatable reliability. Dozens of models exist but my two top recommendations would be the 500 Retrograde and 590 M-LOK.

The Retrograde is an outstanding wood-furniture throwback to an older, simpler time that retains all of the reliability of a modern design. Even just for the historical swagger of it, this is a great gun to own.

If you want the best for home defense, you can’t beat the 590 M-LOK. The added ghost ring sights, 1913 railing, and M-LOK mounting points give you lots of options.

MSRP for the Retrograde is $588 and $640 for the 590 M-LOK.

Maverick 88

For the most barebones defensive option you can find, the Maverick 88 is the best value and the best you can get with barely any funds.

maverick 88
maverick 88

An MSRP of only $250 seems scary cheap but honestly, this is an incredibly well-made gun. Based on the Mossberg 500 and 90 percent of the parts being interchangeable, this is basically a 500 with all of the cost and fat cut away. What is left is a simple pump-action gun that won’t let you down.

A good rule is to not trust cheap guns, but the Maverick 88 is one of the very few exceptions. I would trust my life to one any day as my home defense tactical shotgun.

LOOSE ROUNDS

Choosing the right shotgun for your home defense tactical needs isn’t as scary as it might seem. Any gun on this list will be a powerful tool to defend yourself with and you won’t go wrong with any of them.

Personally, my top pick is the Beretta 1301 and Mossberg 590. For the best in both worlds, these are the kings of their realms. 

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4 responses to “Best Tactical Shotgun for Home Defense [2022]”

  1. Jeff says:

    “12 or 20 gauge, as these shells can come in slugs, buckshot, and birdshot.”

    Like pretty much every other gauge.

  2. Gerald says:

    Please phone me 702-217-1707
    I’m ready to buy a pump short shotgun preferably 12 gauge. I see one in your advertising photo but no gauge or phone number to order. HELP!!!!

  3. Jacqueline saunders says:

    I would like to buy a shotgun for home defense which one is best

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