Top Tactical Shotguns For Home Defense

Comments: 0 Post Date: November 19, 2020

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.

Note on Price and Availability

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.

At the end of this article, I have included links to shotguns currently in stock.

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.

Why have a shotgun?

Easy to operate

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.

Affordable and easy to find ammo (usually)

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.

  • Home defense
  • Skeet shooting and sport
  • Hunting

What makes a shotgun tactical?

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.

Remington 870 Series

  • 12g or 20g
  • 18″-21″ barrels
  • Weight varies by model. See descriptions of individual models below.

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.

Model 870 Express Fully Rifled Slug

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.

Model 870 Special Purpose Marine Magnum

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.

Keltec KSG

  • Capacity: 12+1
  • Barrel Length: 18.5”
  • Weight: 6.9 lbs.

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 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.

The KSG comes in several other configurations. Here is a list with the barrel lengths and shell capacities noted.

KSG 25

Note: This is a really big and heavy shotgun. The barrel length excludes it from the generally accepted range for tactical shotguns.

  • Capacity: 12+12 plus 1 in the chamber for a total of 25 shells (2.75”)
  • Barrel Length: 30.5”
  • Weight: 9.25 lbs.

KSG Tactical

  • Capacity: 5+5 plus 1 in the chamber for a total of 11 shells (2.75”)
  • Barrel Length: 13.7”
  • Weight: 5 lbs.

KSG Compact

  • Capacity: 5+5 plus 1 in the chamber for a total of 11 shells (2.75”)
  • Barrel Length: 18.5”
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs.

Mossburg 590 Series

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.

Mossberg 590A1 SPX

  • Capacity: 8+1
  • Barrel Length: 20”
  • Weight: 7.25 lbs.

This shotgun is used by the U.S. armed forces. It is the only pump action shotgun to pass Mil-Spec standards.

  • Parkerized or Marinecote finishes on heavy-walled barrels
  • Metal trigger guard and safety buttons
  • Select models feature tactical tri-rail for ends, 6-position adjustable stocks, picatinny top rails, and specialty sight packages
  • Adjustable ghost ring sights or XS rail-mounted sights

Beretta 1301 Tactical

  • Capacity: 4+1 (2.75” shells)
  • Barrel Length: 18.5”
  • Weight: 6.3 lbs.

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.

Benelli M3

  • Capacity: 5+1 (2.75” shells)
  • Barrel Length: 19.75”
  • Weight: 7.2 lbs.

The Benelli M3 is on the higher end of the cost spectrum, but it has an excellent reputation. The Benelli M3 allows the shooter to choose between pump and semi-auto modes. This allows the Benelli to cycle practically any 2.75”or 3” shell without problems.

Ghost ring sights help you shoot more accurately. The M3 is drilled for a weaver mount rail system but the rail is not included. Integrated sling attachments allow for sling carry. At this price range, a custom-cut hard case is included.

A two-shot extension tube is available for those who want increased capacity. As with any Benelli parts, the extension tube is considerably more expensive than extension tubes for other shotguns.

Mossburg Maverick 88 Series

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.

Maverick 88 Security/Field Combo

  • 12g
  • 18.5” barrel but comes with a 28” field barrel, so you have versatility if you want a longer barrel for sporting purposes
  • Dual extractors
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Chambered for 3” or 2.5” shells

Maverick 88 Security

  • 12g
  • Choice of 18.5” or 20” barrel
  • Capacity: 5+1 or 7+1
  • Chambered for 3” or 2.75” shells

The regular Maverick 88 Security offers some options. Choose the model with an 18.5” barrel and a 7+1 capacity for weight and maximum capacity.

Maverick 88 Security with Top Folding Stock

  • 12g
  • 18.5” barrel
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Chambered for 3” or 2.75” shells

Remington 870 Express Tactical

  • Capacity: 6+1
  • Barrel Length: 18.5”
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.

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.

Winchester SXP Marine Defender Pump Action Shotgun

  • 12g
  • 18.5” barrel
  • Capacity: 4+1
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.

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.

AK-47 and AR-15 Patterns

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.


  • 12g
  • 18.5” barrel
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Weight: 8.8 lbs.

For those who love the AK-47 pattern, the JTS is an affordable option. At roughly half the cost of the Kalashnikov KS-12T, it may be easier for some to justify the cost of another shotgun. If you are like me, you’re probably looking for an excuse to add to the gun collection once in a while!

The JTS features a chrome lined 18.5” barrel and comes with two 5-round magazines. The JTS has an adjustable gas tube that can help reduce recoil with some shells.

It is recommended that you use higher brass loads to break it in, like many semi-auto shotguns. If you have a muzzle break you like, you will be glad to know that the barrel is threaded.

The JTS also sports modified adjustable AK sights.

This shotgun is noticeably heavier than many tactical shotguns. At 8.8 pounds instead of the typical 7-7.5 pounds, the extra weight will be noticeable during a day on the range.

Kalashnikov USA KS-12T Tactical Shotgun

  • 12g
  • 18.5” barrel
  • Capacity: 5+1 but accepts larger magazines and drums
  • Weight: 8.86 lbs.

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.

Escort DF 12 Shotgun

  • 12g
  • 18” or 20” barrel
  • Capacity: 2, 5, or 10+1
  • Weight: 9 lbs.

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.

Panzer Arms BP-12 Semi-auto Bullpup Shotgun

  • 12g
  • 20” barrel
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Weight: 9 lbs.

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.

Standard Manufacturing DP-12 Double-barrel Shotgun

  • 12g or 20g
  • 2 barrels at 18.75”
  • Capacity: 14 in the tubes plus 2 in the chambers for a total of 16
  • Chambered for 3” or 2.75” shells
  • Weight: 9 lbs., 12 oz.

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.

Ithaca Model 37 Home Defender

  • 12g or 20g
  • Choice of 18” or 20” barrel
  • Capacity: 4+1 or 7+1
  • Chambered for 3” or 2.75” shells
  • Weight: 7 lbs.

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.



Recoil Pads

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.

Links to Shotguns In Stock As of November 24, 2020

Note: Availability can change fast. I have included some shotguns that do not necessarily meet the specs for a tactical shotgun. At this point in time, there are very few shotguns in stock. You can get on a waitlist but there is no guarantee about future availability.

Charles Daly AR12S. Currently just $480

Benelli USA M2 12g Mossy Oak Shadow Grass 3+1

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite 20g

JTS M12AK 12 G

Retay MM 12G


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