A tactical shotgun is a firearm for home defense and sport. In this article I highlight some of the top tactical shotguns on the market. I include tactical shotguns from many manufacturers and price ranges, so there’s something for every defense budget.
Right now, it can be difficult to find specific firearms. That does not mean that nothing is available. It is pretty clear that supply is limited, and sometimes, the less common brands or the higher end of the price range is all that is available. If you are reading this and looking for a firearm, you should know that you may have to take what you can get or go without. I expect this situation will change, but it may be quite some time before that happens.
Remember that you need ammo too. Do not buy a shotgun and just assume that you can get ammo. Make sure to buy a sufficient quantity of ammo along with your gun, and ensure that you’ll be able to get more ammo in the future.
Private sales of shotguns are legal as long as a few basic rules are followed. It may be a good idea to check the laws in your area. Remember to use caution when buying from someone you do not know or meeting them somewhere. These are strange times, and you should approach any private firearms transaction with caution.
Even those who have never shot a gun before can quickly learn to use a shotgun. They are simple and easy to use.
Compared with many firearms, a shotgun is inexpensive. Some of the shotguns on this list are under $300 and perform well enough for regular use.
Shotgun shells come in many sizes and shot styles. Although it could be harder to find a particular type at times, chances are you’ll be able to find something.
Ammo is inexpensive compared to rifle rounds.
A tactical shotgun can be used for many things.
Between 1887-1900, John Joseph Browning designed the first lever action and pump action shotgun that was also autoloading. Modern shotguns are based on this design.
The difference between a regular shotgun and a tactical shotgun is important. The most common tactical shotgun caliber is 12 gauge (g) and occasionally 20g. Nontactical shotguns are also usually 12g, but you can get shotguns in 20g, 18g, 16g, 10g, 8g, or 4g. There is also the.410 shotgun which can be really fun to shoot.
Unless you have a specific sporting need for a larger caliber, I recommend sticking to a 12g because it is the easiest caliber to find ammo for. However, you probably want to start a kid out with a smaller shotgun.
Tactical shotguns typically have an 18-20” barrel, which is on the shorter side. The reduced overall length makes a tactical shotgun a good choice for tighter spaces like urban environments. Regular shotguns, like my Remington Wingmaster, can have 30” barrels, which makes them much heavier.
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The 870 series has a lot of options. For a tactical shotgun, stick to models with an 18‑21” barrel. This shotgun is available with a hardwood or synthetic stock. Although wood is beautiful, I recommend a synthetic stock if you will be out in harsh conditions or you want to reduce the weight.
I highlight the two 12g 870 series pump shotgun configurations that I think are the major standouts. If these don’t appeal to you, I encourage you to take a look at the other 870 configurations. I bet you’ll find one that fits your needs.
This is a highly accurate and well-made home defense shotgun at a nice price point. It has a 20” fully rifled barrel and adjustable sights. Like all 870 configurations, it has a receiver milled from a single piece of billeted steel. The Monte Carlo style synthetic stock is lightweight and strong.
The one disadvantage of this shotgun is that it only holds four rounds of 2.75” or 3” shells. The good news is that you can get a tube extension that expands the capacity by two, three, or four rounds. How much you can expand any Model 870 depends on the length of the barrel. Check out Brownell’s for tube extension kits.
The 870 Express Fully Rifled Slug weighs 7 lbs. If you want rifle-like precision in a shotgun this is definitely one to consider.
If you plan to use your shotgun outside a lot and don’t want to worry about rust too much, the Marine Magnum is an excellent choice. If you are near salt water, the Marine Magnum will hold up better than a standard shotgun. However, that doesn’t mean you can neglect regular shotgun maintenance.
This is a beautiful gun. The receiver is made of a solid billet of steel that has been nickel-plated without electricity. The barrel is coated inside and out for allover protection in corrosive environments.
The 18.5” barrel has a single bead sight. The capacity is six rounds of 2.75” or 3” shells, which is plenty. The included synthetic stock helps this shotgun come in at 7.5 pounds.
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Introduced in 2011, the KSG has received a lot of attention and positive feedback from shotgun enthusiasts. Chambered for 2.75” or 3” shells and featuring an innovative dual-tube feeding system with a selector switch for fast reloading, this bullpup-style tactical shotgun really stands out.
If you like the idea of a short shotgun, you may like the bullpup style. At just under 7 pounds unloaded, the basic KSG design is actually lighter than some tactical shotguns.
The feature that impresses most people is its outstanding capacity. Each tube holds 7 rounds for a total of 14. If you keep a shell in the chamber, you can have 15 shells (2.75”) ready to rock. If you use 3” shells, the capacity drops to 12 plus an optional 1 in the chamber.
Note: This is a really big and heavy shotgun. The barrel length excludes it from the generally accepted range for tactical shotguns.
Like the Maverick 88, the 590 offers many models and options. I chose the 590A1 based on the advice of my friend Tim, who used it in Afghanistan.
This shotgun is used by the U.S. armed forces. It is the only pump action shotgun to pass Mil-Spec standards.
Beretta makes some high quality firearms. You should expect to pay a little more for a Beretta shotgun. The 1301 Tactical is a highly accurate semi auto shotgun. The aluminum receiver is strong and light. The 18.5” barrel means you can get into some tight places.
What makes the Beretta 1301 different from other tactical shotguns is the BLINK gas operating system which features a cross tube gas piston. This allows the 1301 Tactical to cycle 36% faster than other shotguns.
The receiver comes with a picatinny rail system, so you can easily add aftermarket scopes and accessories. Beretta made this shotgun to be versatile. For example, the stock length can be adjusted using the included spacers.
A magazine extension tube is available as an aftermarket accessory in the USA.
The Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun features rear ghost ring sights and an interchangeable front blade sight.
The oversize bolt handle, release level, and safety will help you safely and efficiently operate the 1301 in low light or even wet conditions.
This is the tactical shotgun that we keep above the door for general use. It is fun to shoot. We bought it used over 13 years ago and have shot it a lot, and it keeps on going. Just once has it failed to eject a cartridge in all that time, and that was likely because of a damaged shell. My husband cleaned the shotgun well, and it has not happened again.
Not bad for a $100 used shotgun! You can still get this gun for under $300 new if you can find one for sale.
It is important to note that there are many models and options in the Maverick 88 line up. Here are the models that fit the parameters of a tactical shotgun.
The Remington 870 is a classic in the world of tactical shotguns. For your money, you get a tactical shotgun with excellent XS ghost ring sights, a drilled and tapped receiver with a Picatinny rail and rear sight, and sling swivel studs.
The receiver is milled from a single piece of steel. The stock is synthetic and features a fore-end that is impervious to water. I like that the 870 comes with a good rubber recoil pad. I realized a few years ago just how important a recoil pad is when you shoot a lot. It took forever for those bruises to go away.
Owners report that the 870 has a smooth action that never binds or jams. Many find that the 870 becomes their “old reliable” shotgun, even if they have many others in their collection.
The 870 is an excellent value for those who want something reliable, accurate, and easy to use for home defense.
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The Marine Defender has been on my shotgun wish list for years. It’s a nice looking and corrosion-resistant shotgun that will hold up to regular use.
It’s also priced to fit a tight gun budget.
Matte chrome plating is used throughout the gun to ensure it can hold up in saltwater environments and wet climates. A strong synthetic stock helps this shotgun come in at only 7.5 pounds.
I like that it has a textured pistol grip and ribbed forearm for a nonslip grip.
I grew up in a household with AK-47s not AR-15s. My Dad is a Vietnam vet and he always had an AK around, so that is what I am comfortable with. I really like that there are AK pattern shotguns and would love to have one myself. Kalashnikov opened a factory in the USA a few years ago so they could avoid some of the import restrictions that were being implemented. Now, Kalashnikov is making AK pattern shotguns in a few styles and capacities.
There is something to be said for a gun made from the pattern you are most familiar with, especially if don’t use a shotgun very often.
These shotguns have a higher capacity than some, which is a nice feature. I like the idea of being able to have extra mags loaded and ready to rock if the situation calls for it.
This shotgun is available in three configurations. I like a solid classic stock. The KS-12 offers that, and it comes with a 5-round clip.
Kalashnikov shotguns come with a 5-round magazine, but you can buy 10-round magazines. It is worth mentioning that the KS-12 series accepts Saiga 12g drums. This means you can load a drum that holds 25 rounds of 2.75” shells.
Kalashnikov makes a few other configurations of this gun that are worth looking at as well. For an additional cost, you can get the tactical version that features a collapsible stock.
The Escort DF 12 Shotgun is an appealing choice for those who are used to the AR-15 platform. You can choose from 2-, 5-, or 10-shot box magazines. Optional flip-up front and rear sights enhance accuracy.
The fixed tactical stock features an excellent grip, and the soft rubber butt pad helps absorb recoil like a champ. The picatinny rail mount is integrated into the receiver for the easy addition of your favorite accessories. A manual cross-button trigger safety is another feature I appreciate.
The barrel is chrome-plated drilled steel for maximum oxidation resistance. The reversible bolt-cocking handle allows for ambidextrous operation.
The sight configuration features adjustable front and rear sights that are built into the handle.
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To me, this shotgun looks pretty unique. I’ve never had the opportunity to shoot a bullpup-style shotgun. Panzer Arms produces the BP-12 in Turkey and charges a moderate price. It is designed to be operated ambidextrously and features a chrome-coated barrel to minimize oxidation.
The receiver is all aluminum, and the stock is synthetic with a well-designed pistol grip. If you are looking for a bullpup shotgun, definitely give Panzer a chance. Although they are not a brand everyone has heard of, they make some good guns. You could pay well over $1,000 for some bullpup-style shotguns, but the Panzer can be had for right around $700 at the time of publication.
For a shotgun to be considered a “bullpup” the action and magazine must be located behind the trigger. This configuration allows the barrel length to remain longer despite an overall shorter weapon length.
When I first saw this shotgun, the kid in me thought it was pretty cool. I watched the Hickok 45 video review on YouTube and thought it would be a fun gun to shoot. I include this tactical shotgun only because it is available and has received a lot of attention. Therefore, plenty of people are considering adding it to their arsenal.
The truth and reality of the Standard Manufacturing DP-12 is that it is a lot of money but not very practical. Look, if you have a ton of money and want a fun toy or something different to pull out at the range with your buddies, then go for it. If you are looking for a practical tactical shotgun, save yourself some money and get an AR-15 or AK-47 style shotgun. They are less money but still provide you with a lot of shots at once because you can switch out magazines fairly quickly.
The Ithaca Model 37 Home Defender is a beautiful shotgun, especially if you opt for the walnut stock. For a more weather resistant option, choose the synthetic. This design is based on a 1915 patent by John Browning. Ithaca bought the patent in 1937 and began production. It was used by U.S. forces in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It is an excellent gun for both left- and right-handed shooters.
The receiver is made from a solid piece of billeted steel. The Model 37 is a tactical shotgun classic. Many police departments used the Model 37 as their shotgun of choice. The LA Police Dept. used these from the 1940s-1990s.
Fans of this shotgun describe it as reliable and easy to load. If this shotgun is in your budget and you want something to hang over the door for home defense, you can’t go wrong with the Ithaca Model 37 Home Defense.
I think it is really important to mention recoil pads because you can be in a lot of pain at the end of the day if you shoot without a good pad.
Many shotguns come with some type of pad, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add another. They are inexpensive, and they can help customize the length of the shotgun stock so that those with longer arms can shoot more comfortably. Always check descriptions carefully to make sure you get the right size for your shotgun.
A tactical shotgun has a lot to offer anyone who wants a gun for self-defense or sport. They are available in price ranges to suit any budget. Although some cost substantially more, you can get a very high quality shotgun at the lower end of the price spectrum. The Mossberg Maverick 88, Remington 870, and the Remington SPX Marine Defender are excellent examples of budget-priced tactical shotguns.
Many tactical shotguns are available in both 12g and 20g. The price of ammo is about the same, but 12g tends to be a little easier to find. More people choose 12g than 20g. If you are a smaller or older person, you may want to consider a 20g version because there is less recoil to absorb. Kids and teens may be more comfortable starting out with a 20g as well.
If you are new to shotguns and have friends that have them, you might consider asking them if you can try theirs to see what you might like. A little money for ammo is always appreciated if someone does that for you.
You will need to purchase a cleaning kit for your shotgun. If you already own a universal gun cleaning kit then you probably have all the tools you need. Hoppes #9 Bore Cleaner and some gun oil may need to be purchased separately.Check out this post at Shotgun World for complete instructions on how to clean your shotgun..
Sawed off shotguns with barrels that measure less than 18” are considered illegal in the USA. Total overall length of a shotgun must be 26” or more. If you want to legally own a shorter shotgun you can apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Requirements for owning a sawed off shotgun include a background check and a $200 tax-paid registration or $5 tax for a transfer of the firearm if you have already met some requirements. Gun laws can change over time so it is always best to check current ATF rules and regulations to make sure you are in compliance.
Recoil can be reduced with a good recoil pad. The more powerful the shotgun shell and the bigger the caliber is are the major factors that contribute to recoil. A 12g shotgun has less recoil than a 10g. A 20g has the least recoil but if you shoot it enough, it can still leave you sore at the end of a long day of shooting at the range or practicing skeet. Wearing padded shirts or using an extra shoulder pad can help.
Samantha is Ready To Go Survival's lead editor, a life-long outdoorswoman with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies. She learned the foundation of preparedness from her father who saw heavy combat in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. An avid outdoors woman and survivalist, her articles have appeared in various homesteading magazines such as GRIT, Back Home, Backwoods Home, and Countryside.