In what appears to be a never-ending and relentless political argument, gun ownership remains a contentious debate among politicians and civilians alike. Especially surrounding the notion of self-defense, owning a firearm is a serious matter and one that -quite frankly- deserves attention. It’s outlined in the 2nd amendment that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” suggesting that responsible firearm ownership is upheld in a court of law. And if you fall in line with this philosophy, odds are you’re either in the market for -or have already purchased- your first firearm.
Clearly, owning a firearm for self-defense purposes is different than say owning one for hunting or sport. The most popular and powerful firearms in this lot tend to be tactical shotguns. These are not meant for sport. Instead, they’re intended to provide sufficient stopping power from intruders in close quarters, about 5 to 10 yards. The key here is to stay away from overpowered guns that could produce excessive noise, recoil, and muzzle flash leaving the owner disoriented. Common types of tactical and combat shotguns include pump actions, semi-automatics or break actions (offering only one or two round capacity) that are either 12 or 20-gauge. It’s also worth noting that using a firearm for self-defense should be an absolute last resort, understanding that other routes should be taken when and wherever possible. However, with that being said, if you’re in the market for some protection at home here are six options for the best shotguns for home defense because, after all, owning a firearm is your right as an American.
Winchester 1897 Pump Action
Share a conversation with any firearms enthusiast and they’re bound to mention John Browning, possibly the most well-known firearms designer credited with upwards of 128 gun patents. He’s responsible for inventing or expanding upon single shot, slide action, and lever action rifles and shotguns; the Winchester 1897 notwithstanding. Known to some as the trench gun, it’s an expansion upon the 1893 shotgun that was used by the US Army, Marines, and Navy just about every major war since the turn of the 20th century.
There are several grades of the Model 1897, available in both 12 and 16 gauges and featuring barrel lengths ranging from 20 inches on the trench gun to 30 inches for the standard. For home defense, we certainly recommend the trench grade given the shorter barrel length as longer lengths are typically reserved for sport or hunting. However, these are out of production and you’ll have to hit the used market to pick one of up for yourself. Not to worry, however, these are highly renowned shotguns throughout the firearm community and finding one for yourself shouldn’t be an overly difficult task.
Remington Model 870 Express
Since 1816 Remington Arms Company has been a reliable American manufacture of firearms and ammunition. The business began when young Eliphalet Remington sought out to build a better gun than he could buy, and in the spirit of true American entrepreneurship, his diligence and hard work succeeded, resulting in the renowned American firearm brand we know today.
This 12-gauge Model 870 is an ideal option for self-defense, boasting a barrel length of 18.5 inches and a five-round capacity. It’s a pump action shotgun weighing in at 7.5 pounds and featuring an ergonomic shoulder stock for enhanced stability and accuracy. The black finish on the shotgun also adds a bit of tactical aesthetic to the firearm as well.
Mossberg 500 Tactical
Mossberg has been around since the early 20th century – 1919 to be exact – and since then has worked to release innovative yet highly functional design breakthroughs within the industry. Such diligence in their craft has rewarded the firearm brand as well. Their pump shotguns are the only shotguns purchased by the US government that exceed Mil-S-3443 specs, their 500 Tactical included.
Each 500 boasts a capacity of six 12-guage rounds, a barrel length of 18.5 inches and a weight of just 5.75 pounds. The overall length of the shotgun measures in at 31 inches, and with a bead sight and heat shield barrel and pistol grip, it’s an ideal tactical shotgun for any homeowner.
Considered by some to be the more “user-friendly” gauges for home defense, the 20 gauge is easier to shoot and produces less recoil making it an ideal option for individuals of a smaller stature. The Gladius is one of these options, available as either a semi-automatic or pump action.
Additionally, the Gladius comes equipped with a forward pistol grip, low-density recoil pad, and is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and a CNC-machined receiver. It also boasts a barrel length of 18 inches, a weight of 6.8 pounds, ghost ring sights, and a Picatinny rail for optic enhancements in case you’re looking to up the tactical nature of this shotgun.
Winchester SXP Extreme Defender
Winchester certainly isn’t trying to mince words with this modern offering from the trusted brand. This pump-action shotgun boasts an 18-inch black chrome barrel, aluminum alloy receiver, and a pistol grip stock. It’s a 12-gauge beauty with a five-round capacity, an overall length of 38 1/2 inches, and a weight of 7 lbs 8 oz. The Extreme defender also comes equipped with Sling swivel studs, a rear ghost ring sight, and side-mounted Picatinny rails for a laser or light attachment if desired.
Winchester has certainly come a long way from their humble beginnings and this SXP is proof that their innovation in the field continues to build off those highly sought-after and admired century-old silhouettes held and fired by our fellow countrymen when the United States was still in its infancy.
Benelli M2 Tactical
A younger brand than others featured here, Benelli was founded in 1967 in Italy, though they’ve developed quite the reputation in the firearm community over the course of their relatively short lifespan thus far. Utilizing a unique inertia operating system, these shotguns are relatively quick thanks to their semi-automatic nature. In fact, the M2 was used to set a world record for clay shooting back in 2004 where sharpshooter Tom Knapp shot down ten targets in mid-air with ten shots in only 2 seconds.
The M2 featured here is no doubt an ideal choice for someone looking for a reliable home defense shotgun. It’s a 12-gauge semi-automatic firearm boasting a barrel length of 18.5 inches and a weight of 6.7 pounds. It’s available with either ghost-ring or open rifle sights and is available with a pistol grip synthetic stock.