Locked and Loaded: Finding the Best Home Defense Shotgun

When it comes to keeping your family and home safe, having a dependable weapon can make all the difference.

A lot of folks choose a shotgun for home defense because they’re pretty easy to use, powerful, and adaptable. But with so many different shotguns to choose from, it can be tough to know which one is the right fit for you.

Whether you’re an experienced gun owner or a newbie, we’ve got you covered with all the details you need to make an informed decision. So let’s dive in and find the perfect shotgun to protect your home and loved ones.

Best Home Defense Shotguns | Close Quarters Combat Edition

Pump vs Semi Auto Shotgun

When selecting a shotgun, a crucial decision you must make is choosing between semi-automatic and pump-action.

Pump Action

Pump-action shotguns are renowned for their reliability. Every time you cycle the pump, regardless of the ammunition type, they just work.

Because of that reliable design, these guns can handle damn near any type of shotgun load without fail, making them a popular choice for home defense.

Additionally, pump shotguns are significantly less expensive compared to semi-auto shotguns.

Related – Maverick 88 Home Defense Shotgun Review

Semi-Auto

Pump-action shotguns have long been considered one of the most reliable designs, but semi-automatic shotguns are becoming just as highly regarded. They are trusted by various military branches worldwide and have evolved in their designs.

One of the biggest advantages of semi-automatic shotguns is the lower recoil and faster rate of fire.

Semi-auto shotguns are also more user-friendly as there is no need to cycle a pump after each shot. Even in high-pressure situations where you may be fighting for your life, all that’s required is to pull the trigger, making it easier to operate under stress.

The five shotguns below provide the military, law enforcement, and those defending their homes with the capability to maneuver within tight spaces and maintain fire superiority in situations where space is severely limited.

Which one is best for you? Each design, whether pump-action or semi-automatic, has its own advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately, the choice depends on what you’re comfortable with. Personally, I have both in my gun safe.

If I were to select only one shotgun for home defense, I would probably go for a semi-automatic. However, this decision comes after investing significant time at the range and becoming deadly, at a subconscious level, with the shotgun.

If you prefer a simple and straightforward option, that is likely to survive an apocalypse, then a pump-action shotgun is unbeatable.

Top 5 Best Home Defense Shotguns

Mossberg 590 Shockwave

The Mossberg Shockwave has taken the shotgun world by storm with its Raptor’s Bird Head pistol grip. The 590M Shockwave is made in collaboration with Shockwave Industries to provide Mossberg with a low-profile, shortened version of their 590 shotgun. The 590 Shockwave is built around a 15" barrel versus the 18.5" barrel for the standard Mossberg 590 Tactical. To make it more mobile, the Raptor’s Birds Eye stock is at least 8" shorter than any of the 590 stocks and weighs 6.55 lbs instead of 6.75lbs. The Magfed shockwave almost doubles the loadout from 6 shells to 11 shells. The 590 Shockwave comes with the forend strap to ensure you maintain control with each shot and an optional wrist strap to hold the shotgun to your firing wrist for extra support.

Specs

Gauge12
Capacity10+1
Chamber2.75"
Barrel TypeHeavy-Walled
Barrel Length15"
Sight/BaseBead
ChokeCylinder Bore
Barrel FinishMatte Blued
Stock FinishRaptor Grip / Corn Cob Forend w/ Strap
Weight6.55
Length27.5"
MSRP$721.00

Why Should I Buy The Mossberg 590 Shockwave?

The 590 Shockwave is built for CQB operations in tight quarters with 11 shells to fire before reloading and is the shortest shotgun model on the market. Please be aware that the Mossberg Shockwave is controversial and may not be legal in your state. Mossberg was able to get the shotgun rated as a firearm instead of a Class 3/NFA Firearm, but each state has different laws and regulations. If your state allows this shotgun, it will be great for home-defense with its unmatched firepower and maneuverability. The Shockwave also looks incredible and will get the attention of anyone on the range due to its one-of-a-kind aesthetics.

Where Can I Buy the Mossberg 590M Shockwave?

  1. Guns.com

  2. Kentucky Gun Co.
  3. Brownells

Mossberg 590 Shockwave

$477.99
at GUNS.COM
Prices accurate at time of writing

Benelli M4 Tactical Shotguns?

Benelli has been known for over a decade as one of the premier shotgun manufacturers in the world because of the level of care and technology they incorporate into their guns. Starting with their patented Comfortech recoil-reduction system,  which is combined with the Combtech technology for a smooth and light recoil that you’ll barely feel. Benelli split the stock diagonally and placed the shock-absorbing chevrons throughout the stock to absorb almost all of the felt-recoil. The Combtech cheek pad is designed to eliminate the vibration and felt-recoil on your face. If this isn’t enough the M4 Tactical is built with the famous A.R.G.O. system, which is a short-stroke, dual-piston shotgun specifically designed for the United States Marine Corp.

Specs

Gauge12
Capacity5+1
Chamber2.1/4"
Barrel TypeHeavy-Walled
Barrel Length18.5"
Sight/BaseGhost Ring
ChokeCylinder Bore
Barrel FinishTitanium Cerakote
Stock FinishBlack Synthetic
Weight7.8 lbs
Length40.0"
MSRP$2,269.00

Why Should I Buy The Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun?

The A.R.G.O. system designed the gas port to be in front of the chamber because the gas is other and cleaner at the front of the chamber. This prevents the dirty carbon from sticking inside your chamber and barrel for a much more reliable shotgun. The Pistons are placed right against the bolt to prevent added vibration and faster operation for a faster and more accurate fire. The Benelli is the smoothest shotgun you’ll ever fire but comes at a price that is untenable for most Americans.

The Vinci SpeedBolt is a great piece of technology Benelli placed in its M4 Shotgun, which improves the balance, reduces the felt-recoil, muzzle climb, and weight. The bolt is made of tungsten steel, which is lighter than stainless steel and provides faster cycling of shells. Since the tungsten is lighter, it can handle lighter loads and assists with the overall reduction of felt-recoil. The SpeedBolt is designed for competition shooting with almost zero felt-recoil and muzzle climb, allowing you to shoot multiple targets in rapid succession. To Top off the shotgun is the QuadraFit buttstock. This buttstock is custom-fitted to every shotgun to allow for easy customization of the cast, comb height, length of pull, and drop.

Where Can I Buy The Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun?

  1. Guns.com
  2. Kentucky Gun Co.

Benelli M4 Tactical

$1,917.99
at GUNS.COM
Prices accurate at time of writing

Beretta 1301 Tactical

The Beretta 1301 Tactical is Beretta’s flagship semi-auto shotgun. The Beretta 1301 Tactical is the newest iteration of Beretta’s premier law enforcement and home-defense semi-automatic shotgun series. Engineered to be ultra-reliable and easy to use, this modern tactical shotgun features enlarged controls, a cold hammer-forged, back-bored barrel, and Beretta’s ultrafast BLINK gas operating system with a cross tube gas piston that allows for 36% faster cycling than its competition.

Specs

Gauge12
Capacity7+1
Chamber3"
Barrel TypeHeavy-Walled
Barrel Length18.5"
Sight/BaseGhost ring sights/Picatinny rail
ChokeOCHP-IC
Weight6.4 lbs
Length37.8"
MSRP$1509.00
Trigger Pull Weight4 lbs

Why Should I Buy The Beretta 1301 Tactical?

Right out of the box, the Beretta 1301 Tactical features an oversized charging handle, a large highly textured bolt release, and an oversized reversible safety button. These features make it easy to use in all weather or lighting conditions as your hands will always be able to positively and safely grip it and operate the controls. Also, the aggressive checkering on the forend makes it easy to gain a secure grip even while wearing gloves.

 

Where Can I Buy The Beretta 1301 Tactical?

  1. Guns.com
  2. Kentucky Gun Co
  3. Brownells

Beretta 1301 Tactical

$1,581.99
at GUNS.COM
Prices accurate at time of writing

Mossberg 590M Mag-Fed

The Mossberg 590M Shotgun is probably my favorite shotgun on the list for putting rounds downrange in a hurry and maintaining my accuracy. I think the Benelli is incredible too, but the mag-fed 590 is incredibly accurate for and it’s about 60% cheaper than the Benelli M4. One amazing feature is the balance of the shotgun is based around the magazine well, so even if you’re carrying 20 rounds, the shotgun is balanced and comfortable. I love the ambidextrous safety, dual extractors, and the twin action bars, which prevent misdeeds and stoppages. Similar to most other Mossberg shotguns, the 590M is always reliable and dependable when you need it most. The addition of the magazine with a capacity of 5,10,15, or 20 shells is unheard of in a shotgun. I believe the $721 price tag is a steal and if you could get this shotgun at a place like Gun Broker (used), you’ll end up with a $700 shotgun for less than $500.

Specs

Gauge12
Capacity10+1
Chamber2.75"
Barrel TypeHeavy-Walled
Barrel Length18.5"
Sight/BaseBead
ChokeCylinder Bore
LOP TypeFixed
LOP13.87"
Barrel FinishMatte Blued
Stock FinishSynthetic – Black
Weight7.75
Length39.5"
MSRP$721.00

Why Should I Buy The Mossberg 590M?

The 590M is smooth and easy to shoot with an abnormally wide magazine (fits in most .308 pouches) because it’s the world’s 1st double-stack shotgun magazine. The 1st thing you’ll notice is this shotgun has almost no felt-recoil. My favorite feature in the 590M is the ability to change load-outs from birdshot, buckshot, or slugs to fit your purpose. Just ensure you mark your mags so you know what shell you’re shooting. The dual extractors from the Mossberg are designed to ensure you don’t get misdeeds due to a dirty environment, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, or Northern Africa.

Where Can I Buy the Mossberg 590M?

  1. Guns.com
  2. Kentucky Gun Co.

Mossberg 590M

$781.99
at GUNS.COM
Prices accurate at time of writing

Mossberg 930 Tactical

The Mossberg 930 Tactical shotgun should probably be rated higher on list, but I’ve learned in my time in the military that not everyone can handle an autoloading shotgun. If you’re a soldier or SWAT team member, this shotgun is everything you’ll ever need in a CQB operation. However, the average civilian with minimal experience should work on their fundamentals with pump-action first. The ghost ring with white paint on the front sight sets up your target as clear as day (even during night operations). The only reason this shotgun isn’t number 1 on the list is the recoil is felt more in this shotgun than it is the 590M and the Shockwave 590M.

Specs

Gauge12
Capacity7+1
Chamber3"
Barrel Length18.5"
Sight/BaseGhost Ring, Front FO
ChokeCylinder Bore
LOP TypeFixed
LOP13.75"
Barrel FinishTan
Stock FinishSynthetic (Black Pistol Grip)
Weight7.25
Length38"
MSRP$1078.00

Why Should I Buy the Mossberg 930 Tactical?

If you want an auto-loader shotgun, this is the model you need to get. I believe this is the best auto-loading shotgun manufactured on the market today. It’s built with the same features that ensure reliability, such as the dual extractors. I recommend this shotgun for skeet shooting, self-defense, and military operations for shooters with enough experience with a shotgun to handle the recoil.

Where Can I Buy the Mossberg 930 Tactical?

  1. Guns.com
  2. Kentucky Gun Co.

Mossberg 930 Tactical

$613.99
at GUNS.COMl
Prices accurate at time of writing

What is the Best Home Defense Shotgun load?

The purpose of a home defense shotgun is to end the threat. Load it accordingly to do just that.

While slugs and birdshot can certainly work for home defense, we prefer 00 buck 9 pellet. Why? Because it imposes maximum damage in a confined space such as a home, has minimal wall penetration, and requires minimal skills to aim and actually hit the threat.

Buckshot ammo, specifically 00 buck, has eight to nine pellets that are each roughly 8.4mm in diameter. The 9 pellet 00 Buck still allows you to get pretty good results at home defense distances. With the right ammo and choke combinations, you can minimize the spread of the pellets and keep all 8 or 9 on target.

For example; The 12 Gauge shotgun with the Federal Premium Vital Shok and a full choke, will decimate anyone that comes through the door intent on harming you and your family. That ammo paired with my Mossberg 930 Tactical will print all 9 pellets in the head of a Kill Zone Target at 15 to 20 yards, thanks to the flite control wad.

If you can’t get your hands on the 00 buck with flight control wad, at least go for copper plated 00 buck as the copper plating keeps the surface area of each pellet uniform during flight resulting in a tighter spread. Lead pellets, since they are a soft metal, tend to deform in flight causing a much wider spread.

Federal FX2 12ga 9 Pellet

$11.99
at Natchez Shooters Supplies
Prices accurate at time of writing

It won’t defeat level 3 body armor, but stack 3 to 5 rounds in rapid succession into the bad guy, and the kinetic energy alone will put them down.

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Table of Contents

  • Pump vs Semi Auto Shotgun
  • Pump Action
  • Semi-Auto
  • Top 5 Best Home Defense Shotguns
  • Mossberg 590 Shockwave
  • Specs
  • Why Should I Buy The Mossberg 590 Shockwave?
  • Where Can I Buy the Mossberg 590M Shockwave?
  • Guns.com
  • Benelli M4 Tactical Shotguns?
  • Specs
  • Why Should I Buy The Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun?
  • Where Can I Buy The Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun?
  • Beretta 1301 Tactical
  • Specs
  • Why Should I Buy The Beretta 1301 Tactical?
  • Where Can I Buy The Beretta 1301 Tactical?
  • Mossberg 590M Mag-Fed
  • Specs
  • Why Should I Buy The Mossberg 590M?
  • Where Can I Buy the Mossberg 590M?
  • Mossberg 930 Tactical
  • Specs
  • Why Should I Buy the Mossberg 930 Tactical?
  • Where Can I Buy the Mossberg 930 Tactical?
  • What is the Best Home Defense Shotgun load?

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