After you have narrowed your choice of a home defense weapon to a shotgun, you still have a wealth of excellent choices waiting for you. Before you think about laying down your cash, these models deserve your attention.
- Mossberg Persuader 590 Tactical SP
One of the oldest models in the illustrious 500 series family of shotguns, the Mossberg 590 Tactical Persuader is based on the Carl Benson design introduced in 1960. All the models of Mossberg’s 500 series are pump-action shotguns designed to chamber 3-inch (76mm) “magnum” shells, with the 590 model distinguished by its magazine tube design. The 590 magazines are designed to be opened at the muzzle end, which makes cleaning and replacing parts easier.
The Mossberg 590 Persuader is a 12-gauge pump action shotgun with a pistol grip, making it a favorite firearm with law enforcement for years. The 590 Persuader has a 20-inch barrel, a ghost ring sight and an 8-plus-1 capacity. The Mossberg 500 Persuader Retrograde model has a walnut stock with a corncob-style forend and a blued finish.
- Remington 870 TAC-14
There’s a lot of firepower packed into the Remington 870 TAC-14’s compact 26.3 inches, which is what makes it a popular weapon for home defense. The TAC-14 is a 12-gauge firearm with a 4-plus-1 capacity that enjoys the decades-old Remington 870 reputation for reliability, a “Raptor” pistol grip and a Magpul M-Lock forend.
- Benelli M4
The “last of the Benelli Super 90 series” of semi-automatic shotguns, the Benelli M4 Tactical was introduced in 1998 and was quickly adopted by the militaries of several nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom and, of course, Italy. Benelli designed a proprietary “auto-regulating, gas operated” system for the 12-gauge M4, an innovative short-stroke system that uses only four parts. The M4 H20 model has a Titanium Cerakote® finish that provides additional protection against corrosion and increases durability.
- Mossberg 500 12-gauge Image Enhancer Talo Edition
The Mossberg 500 series has earned its reputation as one of the most popular home defense shotguns and as one of the most adaptable firearms of all time. The 500 series has a 5-plus-1 capacity, with dual extractors, positive steel-to-steel lockup, twin action bars and an anti-jam elevator that ensure smooth operation.
Its top-mounted safety supports ambidextrous operation. The series has tri-railed forends that accommodate accessories and lasers, as well as adjustable stocks for rapid adjustment of length-of-pull, combined with a variety of accessory barrels. The exclusive Mossberg 500 Image Enhancer Talo Edition includes a heat shield, a 6-position collapsible/folding stock, a pistol grip and fixed sights.
- Beretta 1301 Tactical Gen II
The second generation 1301 Tactical offers some serious upgrades to the already-popular 1301 semi-auto shotgun. The 12-gauge Gen II has an adjustable chin riser, the pistol grip is great even when the shooter is wearing gloves and the extended magazine tube gives it a 7-plus-1 capacity.
The Beretta 1301 Tactical Gen II uses a “BLINK” gas operating system with a cross tube gas piston that allows the Gen II to cycle shells 36 percent faster than the majority of shotguns in its class. The Gen II’s shorter barrel (18.5 inches) makes it especially effective in close quarters, and the 1301 Tactical platform is easy to customize.
- Mossberg Maverick 88
This variation on the classic Mossberg 500 series is highly interchangeable with other 500 series models. Except for the trigger groups, most other parts of the Maverick are interchangeable with other 500 models, including the barrel, stock and magazine tube. The Mossberg Maverick 88 is available in four models: All-Purpose, Security, Security with Top-Folding Stock, and Slug, which gives the Maverick 88 a broad range of combinations of barrel length, gauge, grip, cylinder bore and capacity.
- Remington 870 Express
The classic Remington 870 shotgun is the most popular shotgun in history, with more than 11 million sold since its introduction a little over 50 years ago. Its sleek lines give the Remington 870 the definitive pump-action shotgun profile, just as it has been all but synonymous with strength, durability and smooth, bind-free action for years.
Among the Model 870’s dozens of configurations is the Express model, a futuristic black-on-black version of the classic weapon. The 870 Express has a synthetic stock with positive checkering, but the heart of its durability and strength is the receiver of the 870 Express, which is machined out of a single block of steel. The matte black finish is, of course, non-reflective.
- Kalashnikov KS-12 Tactical
This American 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun is true to its AK-inspired Russian Saiga 12 design, so it’s designed to accept both 2.75-inch and 3-inch shells, but it has a reliability far superior to the imported product.
The KS-12 Tactical has an AK-style trigger, pistol grip and a wide, AR-15-style folding buttstock with a solid, high-grip pad. The KS-12 has a side-mounted optics rail and comes with a standard 10-round magazine. (Most Saiga accessories can be used on the KS-12, including magazines, drums, chokes and muzzle devices.)
- IWI Tavor TS12
This Israeli-made 12-gauge, semi-automatic shotgun has been one of the most popular guns in the U.S. since its 2018 introduction. Its bullpup design, with the action located behind the trigger, is based on an assault rifle design, making the IWI Tavor TS12 light (8 pounds), compact (a little over 28 inches) and maneuverable. The Tavor TS12 has three rotating magazine tubes that give it an impressive 15-plus-1 capacity.
- Mossberg Maverick 88 Cruiser
Mossberg is known for reliability, and the lightweight (5.5 pounds) Maverick 88 Cruiser has an anti-jam shell elevator, and its dual-action bars give the shooter reliable cycling without any binding. The 12-gauge Maverick 88 Cruiser is compact (a hair over 28 inches) and well-balanced, with a fixed-cylinder bore choke that produces excellent shot patterns at close range and a 5-plus-1 capacity.
- Kel-Tec KSG
For a reliable, durable bullpup-design, pump-action shotgun, the Kel-Tec KSG 12-gauge feeds from both the left and right tube, giving it up to a 7-plus-7-plus-1 capacity, depending on shell length. Its soft-rubber butt pad limits recoil, and the Zytel grip and stock assembly is easily disassembled by only pushing out two pins.
- STAFF PICK: Mossberg 590 Shockwave
Though it is not legally a shotgun, the Mossberg 590 Shockwave is not only one of the most popular firearms that shoots shotgun shells, but also one of the best-selling firearms, period. The 590 Shockwave is a 12-gauge firearm that puts the legendary pump-action reliability Mossberg is known for into an ultra-compact package, only 26.37 inches overall weighing 5.25 pounds, a size that still falls outside the NFA’s AOW category.
The 590 Shockwave’s name comes from its recoil-resistant “Raptor” bird’s-head pistol grip design, which disperses much of the force during recoil. The 590 Shockwave offers all the features a Mossberg pump-action shotgun is known for, ambidextrous safety, dual extractors, positive steel-to-steel lockup, twin action bars, and a smooth-operating anti-jam elevator, all in a futuristic, out-of-the-box design.
BUDGET PICK: Escort Slugger
This 12-gauge, pump-action Turkish import retails for under $200 for the base model, with the tactical model only $20 more. The Escort Slugger is an all-purpose shotgun with a lightweight alloy receiver, an 18-inch, smooth-bore barrel with a fixed, cylinder-bore choke suitable for both shots and slugs. The 3-inch chamber accommodates 2.75-inch and 3-inch shells. The Escort Slugger has a 5-plus-1 capacity.