Shotguns for Home Defense

The shotgun is probably the most versatile gun you can own. If you had to choose and had to select just one weapon to use in a survival situation, for home defense, and for hunting, the shotgun would be the best choice.

For hunting, it can handle game from small to large. Use bird shot to hunt fowl and small game, use slugs for large game. For home defense, no other weapon can match its versatility. It can shoot non-lethal bean bags at the one end of the scale and can provide the most knock down power of any gun period using buckshot and slugs at the other end of the scale.

The price and availability of the shotgun is again puts it ahead of any other type of gun. Buy the famous time-tested and proven Remington 870 pump shotgun for  $330.00 new, or find a used one for even less money.

The reliability of the Remington 870 is well-known and the reason why it is the choice of so many government and especially law enforcement agencies.

My choices for shotguns include the Remington 870 in 12 Gauge or 20 gauge, the Remington 1100 in 12 Gauge or 20 gauge, and the Benelli M4 Super 90 Tactical shotgun. There are, of course, other excellent shotgun choices for home defense use but my experience has been solely with the Remington models and the Benelli M4 so that is what my recommendations are based on, my personal experience.

Shotguns come in two main types, pump and semiautomatic. There are also single shots, and the double barrel, but why limit yourself to just one or two rounds for defense. When and if trouble comes then the more rounds the better. My Remington 870 pump-action shotgun holds six + 1 rounds, my Remington 1100 semi auto holds 7 + 1 rounds, and my Benelli M4 shotgun can hold 7 + 1 + 1 for a total of 9 rounds of shotgun ammo.

The pump shotguns are the most reliable because they have fewer parts, and this is proven with the Remington model 870 however, a well maintained Remington 1100 can also be considered reliable. The Benelli M4 has a superb record and has proven its reliability as a combat shotgun in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Semiautomatic shotguns can be either gas operated or recoil operated. Benelli made a series of inertia operated shotguns called the Benelli M1, Benelli M2, and Benelli M3. The Benelli M3 can operate as a pump shotgun or as a semiautomatic shotgun by turning a selector knob on the fore end. The recoil/inertia operated shotguns depend on the action/reaction of the recoil to operate the gun. The Remington 1100 and 11-87 are gas operated. The Benelli M4 is also a gas operated and has two gas pistons.

A shotgun for home defense can be made from any brand of shotgun but it is best to stay with the popular and proven brands such as Mossberg, Remington, and Benelli. There are more shotgun accessories available for these popular makes than any other.

A homemade shotgun, homemade in the sense that it is modified for use as a home defense shotgun, can be easily modified for use in tactical and combat situations and can serve as an economical home defense weapon.

The minimum length barrel for any shotgun is 18 inches. A sawed off shotgun, short-barreled shotgun, or any long gun with barrel length less than 18 inches requires a federal tax stamp and permit. It just isn’t worth the hassle and the added expense for what you might gain. And don’t forget that State laws may have additional requirements. Stick with the 18.5 inch standard length barrel with overall gun length exceeding 26 inches to avoid any problems with the Feds. State gun laws may vary so be aware of and understand your State laws.

Shotgun stocks include:

  • factory stocks
  • tactical stocks
  • collapsible stocks
  • pistol grip stocks

Tactical shotguns can have an adjustable, collapsible, or fixed stock. There are also pistol grip shotgun stocks available but I don’t feel that a shotgun is very controllable or accurate with the pistol grip stock.

A home defense shotgun can be as simple as a sporting or field shotgun, or a shotgun designed specifically for tactical or combat use. The tactical and combat shotguns have increased magazine capacity and are usually shorter in length for easy navigation in confined spaces.

Shotgun ammunition – One of the features that makes shotguns so versatile is the variety of ammunition available. From bean bags, to birdshot, to buckshot, to slugs. No other firearm has such a wide range of ammunition choices.

When in the market for a home defense shotgun don’t limit yourself to just the new shotguns for sale. A new shotgun can be purchased in the $300 range, but Don’t overlook the used shotguns that may be available locally and on the Internet. There are many great buys available on, and at local pawn and gun shops.

Here is a list of shotgun manufacturers

Mossberg shotguns – Mossberg makes the Mossberg 500 pump shotgun and the Mossberg 590 pump shotgun. The Mossberg 590 is used by the military and law enforcement. Mossberg also makes a line of pistol grip shotguns called the Just in Case series.

Remington shotguns – The Remington 870 pump-action shotgun and the Remington 1100 semiautomatic shotgun are the most popular shotguns in the world having sold tens of millions of each. The Remington 870 is acclaimed for its reliability and has seen use by the military, and is used by more law enforcement agencies than any other shotgun. Remington also makes the Remington 870 Tactical shotgun, the Remington 1100 Tactical shotgun, and the Remington 11-87 tactical shotgun

Benelli shotguns – The Benelli M1, Benelli M2, and Benelli M3 are well-known for being quality shotguns. The Benelli M4 Super 90 tactical shotgun is now the contracted combat shotgun by the U.S. Military and has seen use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

FN shotguns – It is not well-known that FN USA manufactures and supplies machine guns for the US Military. FN also makes shotguns that are claimed to be the fastest action semiautomatic shotguns available.

Browning shotguns – Primarily manufacture durable, high quality sporting shotguns that are well-known for easy handling.

Winchester shotguns – Primarily makes sporting shotguns but the Winchester Super X Defender pump shotgun is designed as a reasonably priced home defense shotgun or tactical shotgun.

Beretta shotguns – Beretta makes a line of home defense shotguns called the Beretta TX4 Storm 12 Gauge gas operated semiautomatic shotgun.

Saiga shotgun – The Saiga shotguns use the same design as the gas operated AK47 action. The AK47 is famous for reliability but I have no experience with the AK47 or Saiga shotguns.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the many shotgun reviews available about virtually every model of shotgun made. Gather your own information and then make an informed decision. That’s what I did to get started on my gun collection.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cebur19 Aug 6, 2013, 10:18 am

    I agree the 20 GA is plenty for home defense plus the recoil is lighter. I own two Remington and one Benelli shotgun. I looked at the Mossberg and decided to make Remington my main shotgun for home defense. The Mossberg is also very popular, a lot of people swear by them.

  • Jim Goldsmith Aug 6, 2013, 12:53 am

    I’m sort of disabled because I don’t have rotator cuffs in either of my shoulders and do not have the extension power in either arm to properly run a pump shotgun. I own both an 870 pump in 12 ga. that is one nice battle wagon and an 870 clone in 20 ga. that also performs well. After trying to make a go of it with the pumps I decided to go with an auto loader in 20 ga. I own a Remington 1100 that I used as my quail gun and it is a 20 ga. I just couldn’t bring myself to alter that piece of art work to make a home defense gun out of it. I looked around and found the Mossberg SA 20 auto loader and I can assure any body that fits the bill as well as anything else I looked at at much higher prices. Its performance is truly outstanding and loaded with #3 buckshot if fits the bill perfectly for home defense. I had a gunsmith enlarge the charging lever and enlarge the safety knob to put make the gun my own. The gun is made in Turkey and the gunsmith told me he used up 3 metal drill bits doing the job because the steel is so darn hard. Choate makes a 2 round extension for the gun which will make it have one in the oven and 7 maids a waiting. That is lots of fire power. This gun deserves a look by anyone who is in need of a home defense shotgun. Don’t let the 20 gauge size be of concern, its plenty big to do the job.

  • cebur19 Aug 5, 2012, 3:55 pm

    I don’t own a Weatherby so no plans at this time. But, if you send me some pictures of your new gun and send the specs we can do a review of it and post it on my site. If you would like, you could write something about it or give me some notes and we can work up a review. Also if possible a picture of the spread on target and a range report would be great. Thanks for visiting and for your comment.

  • Patrick Rodgers Aug 4, 2012, 7:46 pm

    Any experience with or plans to review a Weatherby? Just bought a 12 gauge pump with a pistol grip/fixed stock configuration (which I’m figuring should divide recoil force between shoulder and hand for at least some dampening). Haven’t had it out yet. Just curious

  • cebur19 Jul 24, 2012, 10:18 am

    I added mention of the Remington 11-87 in my post. I felt you had a very good point. Thanks

  • cebur19 Jul 24, 2012, 10:04 am

    Hi Sam, I mainly write about guns that I own. I don’t own the 11-87. The Remington 11-87 is a newer version of the 1100. I decided to buy the Remington 1100 over the 11-87 because I felt the older models had a longer history of positive user comments and there are more used 1100’s available at a cheaper price. I traded my first 1100 and regretted getting rid of it, So I bought another one for $259 with a smooth bore slug barrel. That gun is suitable for home defense use just as it is. Add a magazine extension for about $50 and you have a kick-ass home defense shotgun. On a used 1100 or 11-87 I like to replace the action spring and gas piston seals. That can make an older shotgun run like new. You might also consider the 20 GA version that is still plenty for home defense but has less recoil. I thought about the 20 Ga but went with the 12 GA. I prefer the 2 3/4″ shells over the 3″ because the longer ones are just too powerful for short range home defense.

  • Sam H Jul 23, 2012, 5:05 pm

    I am currently in the process of building my frist home defense shotgun…I have picked the Remington 11-87…..A big reason for the semi ,was I broke my left arm in 8 places / part of my elbow socket was destroyed…hence my range of motion was /is limited and also strength in the left hand reduced by 25-30%…all this due to a drunk driver..and it wasn’t me!….this was why the consideration over the 870…also the 11-87 is capable of 3″ shells if ever needed or all that was availeable at the moment….sort of surprised the 11-87 wasn’t mentioned at all…..also the $$$ differance over the Benelli…any comments/thoughts on the 11-87?

  • cebur19 Jul 18, 2012, 9:48 pm

    That is some good information. Thanks

  • D.L. Jul 18, 2012, 6:54 pm

    Mossberg shotguns are currently the most widely used shotgun in the U.S. military due to the simple, cheap and lightweight design, compared to more durable and complex brands available. They are most used for door breaching and are looked at as inexpensive, disposable “bic lighter” weapons.