Whether you’re just buying your first gun for home defense or are a seasoned gun owner that wants to step up the stopping power of his next purchase, pump action shotguns are a remarkable combination of price, power, and reliability that no other class of weapons can match.
The simple structure of a pump shotgun enables it to fire very hot loads, for years, with minimal wear. Combine that with the fact that most of these guns have been made since the years of the Vietnam war so there’s a lot of very effects second-hand options that can serve you nicely regardless if your needs are home defense, sport or just target practice during the weekend.
Let this guide give you more information on the benefits of these products as well as how to snag the very best shotgun out there.
If you’re going off the grid and you’re looking for a firearm that can really pack a punch, a shotgun is right up your alley. Shotguns can serve as both hunting and self-defense weapons, making them a perfect choice for the prepper. Follow along as we take a look at some top shotguns that fit the bill for protection.
The value of pump action shotguns
1. More bang for the buck
When it comes to guns you measure effectiveness in first use stopping power. You want a gun that will stop something or someone from the very first pull of the trigger.
Shotguns excel at this. With one pull of the trigger, you are splattering multiple projectiles at your target or sending one heavy projectile towards the target.
Whether you shoot 9 00 buckshot pellets or 2-ounce slugs, there’s nothing compared to a shotgun when you just wound to propel high-speed mass towards a target as fast as possible. And whether you’re facing vermin or a home invader, that first shot stopping power is the only thing that really matters.
The simple mechanism and the small increments in gun design make old second-hand models be just as effective as newer models.
Effectively the shotgun platform is so effective manufacturers can’t really justify high price tags for new models.
Shotgun mechanisms have not changed since the time of the old muskets. This makes them simple to maintain, use and very reliable.
But they also use a complicated nomenclature with high tolerances in production that makes them seem more complicated than their rifled alternatives.
The simple design, high tolerances, and old technology make the aftermarket sector and customizability of shotguns second to none. This means that most shotguns, even second-hand models can be brought up to tactical spec if you put the time and money in it.
This also means that if you are a tinkerer this is not a weapon this is a full-time hobby.
This goes hand and hand with the aftermarket and simplicity arguments. This is the only non-lethal effective self-defence option available on the market and also the only effective platform that you can transition from lethal non-lethal if the situation requires that escalation.
Same goes fro hunting varieties, a hunting rifle is just a change in shell away from being a vermin killer.
The varied aftermarket options and versatility also enable you to mitigate some of the downsides of shotguns, you can have an extended magazine, smaller shells with a modified receiver, slugs and a 28” barrel for greater accuracy.
Because you need to manually load it, it’s safer than most other options in everyday use. Now some people argue that you should always have one in the chamber for faster response time and others argue that you never have a loaded gun, even at the gun range. Safest bet is the middle ground, don’t keep anything in the chamber if you aren’t planning on shooting it.
Shotguns are also perfect to teach gun safety and gun handling while being the easiest to become proficient at. That’s probably why it’s been the go-to gun for people that only own one gun.
People that just need a tool for killing vermin or for home defense. To be fair, modern handguns have been sold as “the one gun to have” lately, but let’s be honest, in the hands of a beginner even a 410 gauge is more effective than a 9 mm.
6. Grows on you
Effectively, the simple mechanics means that a shotgun can be a very fast weapon in the hands of an experienced weapon. Same goes with it’s spread and accuracy for longer ranges.
This makes you appreciate the weapon more and more as you grow in skill and learn your individual weapon better.
1. REMINGTON 870
It’s estimated that there are more than 10 million 870s out there.
The 870 comes in 3 variants that mostly vary in terms of build quality: Express, Wingmaster(chrome plated bolt, walnut stock, aluminum guard before 2008) and Police (more quality control, made to endure punishment, milled extractor and ejector and polished bore)variants.
Older versions took the 2 and ¾ inch shell while Remington made a Magnum version chambered for 3-inch shells. All modern 870s are magnums so they can chamber anything under 3 inches.
Like with most firearms, older versions are usually better quality than the new one. This is especially important if you’re going for the express versions. But Because of their use in law enforcement, there’s plenty of retired Police variants on the second-hand market which is incredible value.
The second feature that makes the Remington stand out is that it’s an amazingly customizable platform and the aftermarket for it is huge. This means that with the price of a premium shotgun, you can get a Police variant and completely fit it with everything you want and get a one of a kind weapon with the reliability of a service weapon.
- Proven track record
- Some express versions are not holding up the pedigree of the brand.
2. MOSSBERG 500
One of the oldest platforms on the market made basically the same way since 1961 at the Connecticut Mossberg plant. There’s something about family businesses that go against the globalist trend and insist on keeping jobs in the US.
The Mossberg 500 is the only platform to pass MilSpec 3443E. An endurance run done by the military by firing 3000 round with the gun frozen, dropped or baked.
This is definitely reassuring considering that the Mossberg comes with an aluminum receivers
This also makes it a little lighter than the steel receiver shotguns which makes it easier to carry but harder on the recoil.
Load it up with mini shells and you get a very nimble and effective home defense weapon. That’s the good thing about shotguns, even the small ones can be very effective.
Speaking of effectiveness, consider it at around 50 yards max effective range and 100 yards with slugs. But for a self-defense scenario, I would not go over 30.
As a home defense weapon it’s got some nice features: the centrally located tang mounted safety makes it ambidextrous and dual extractors make jamming very rare, and I really mean very rare, because I have never seen a Mossberg 500 jam and there’s a lot of them at the range.
Another note about the centrally located safety. It’s visual. It enables even people that aren’t trained to feel for the safety to see the status of their weapons at moments noticed even in high-stress situations.
- Doesn’t get more reliable than this
- Strong recoil with heavy loads
- Aluminium receiver
3. BENELLI NOVA
Designed for personal defense and police work, this pump action 12 ga accepts virtually any load in shells up to 3.5 inches, utilizing a front blade and rear ghost ring sight system to get your slugs or shot on target. Its polymer stock and lightweight receiver are integrated to keep moisture and dirt out, with improved strength for improved service life
This is a great blend of tech and old school no cutting corners manufacturing. Benelli is the Cadillac of shotguns.
The Pump action is smooth as silk and it also has some nice features for the price of a Mossberg.
For example, the slide stop button makes it very versatile in tactical situations. It enables you to swap out the barreled shell on the fly. This is handy when going hunting but very important when dealing with a home defense situation as it enables you to adapt to the tactical situation as you gather more information.
The other stand out feature about this gun is that it runs very clean and when you do need to clean it, disassembly is toolless. Well, not really toolless, but rather the only tool you need is the magazine cap that comes with the gun.
- Doesn’t get more reliable than this
- Strong recoil with heavy loads
- Aluminium receiver
4. KELTEC KSG
The KelTec is an interesting goose, and this certainly isn’t a duck with its amazing 15 slug capacity in a small 26-inch frame. That’s as little as some barrels.
Just that puts the KSG in its own class. That’s an amazing amount of stopping power in something shorter than a sawed off shotgun.
All that power comes from the thick 2 parallel magazine design of the KelTek
The receiver Feeds from 2 parallel magazines that can hold 7 2¾ inch shells, each. This opens up a wide range of tactical options for home defense.
The second party trick the KelTek comes with is the bullpup design, this makes it very short even with 18-inch barrels. Easy for small space use, corridors, confined rooms and general indoor use.
Those 2 factors make this gun a home defense powerhouse and as a bonus it is has a fully ambidextrous design.
But the short design also comes with drawbacks, the gun is prone to short shucking, but I guess you can train yourself to be more confident and vigorous with the load action.
And while you’re training, you need to also learn to manage your magazines. Because the 2 magazine system is not really intuitive and switching between magazines is somewhat awkward in the best of conditions.
- 15 slugs worth of stopping power
- Compact form factor
- Not as reliable as you want it to be for home defense
- The magazine switch needs some time getting used to
5. BROWNING BPS
The first thing you notice is the downward ejection of the round, which is a great feature I really hope catches on. Sending empty shells into the other guy at the range is just rude.
The safety is in the style of a Mossberg, with a vertical, ambidextrous safety located on the tang.
I also like the heavy weight, it makes for a nicer recoil especially with heavy loads.
You can definitely feel that it went after the 870 and added some extra features. But it does come at a price and the aftermarket for it isn’t as good as for the Remington.
But what you do get is a very polished firearm, with great craftsmanship that is very nice to shoot. The action is smooth and it just feels like a solid piece of equipment, and when you think that even shoddy shotguns last for decades, you can’t even imagine how well this model will withstand the test of time.
- Bottom ejection
- Speed unloading capabilities
- More expensive than an 870
- Fewer aftermarket options than an 870
Benelli M4 H2O Telescoping Stock
An NP3 finish renders the shotgun impervious to the ravages of the elements. Features include receiver-mounted picatinny rail, fully adjustable ghost ring aperture rear sight and adjustable front sight.
Benelli M2 Tactical
This shotgun has a simple, easy-to-maintain recoil operating system, a ghost ring sight and textured areas molded into the stock and forearm for a better grip.
Mossberg 500 SPX Review
This tactical shotgun is ready to serve in a pinch, with its 5+1 standard capacity and 3-inch chambers that are ready for high-brass personal defense loads. The ghost ring rear and blade-style front sights will get you on target fast. The ported barrel will keep you on target for fast follow-up shots, while the unique strap on the forearm helps you cycle the pump without losing traction on the forearm itself. Should you need to switch ammunition types—from shot to slugs or back— the five-round carrier on the collapsible M4-style stock holds ammunition at the ready.
Mossberg 930 SPX Pistol Grip
The 930 SPX features an extended magazine tube, ghost-ring aperture rear sight, winged fiber optic front sight, and picatinny rail on the receiver. In addition, it has a full-length synthetic stock with a pistol grip for comfort.
Beretta TX4 Storm Review
This shotgun is part of Beretta’s Storm series of defensive arms, and rounds out their pistol/carbine/shotgun collection. A 12-gauge with 5+1 capacity, it uses a rear ghost ring and front blade sight combination to get you on target like a rifle, while the traditional styling is pure shotgun through and through. The chrome-lined bore offers improved service life, and its overall empty weight—6.4 pounds—means that it’s a light-handling, responsive arm.
Remington Model 870 Express Tactical Blackhawk Spec Ops II
The Model 870 offers six rounds of threat-stopping power waiting in its extended magazine. A recoil reduction system and seven-position LOP adjustable tactical buttstock are other standard features.
For the range, I just love the Browning. It looks great, I love the feel, it fires great and that downward ejection is just the next stage in gun design
But for home defense, I have a custom short barreled Mossberg with tactical light, a custom pistol grip and a modifier for the receiver so it can load mini shells without jamming.
The low recoil, high capacity, lightweight loadout makes it very versatile which combined with the ejector makes it just the perfect weapon for home defense situations.
And that’s the moral of this post actually. The pump action platform is so versatile and effective that you can’t really go wrong with any of these because ultimately whatever happens all of these will be effective from the very first pull of the trigger.
The most important thing with any of these is the training and tactical discipline of the user. You are the weakest link compared to this weapon. So whatever you get, use it, train with it, run a couple of tactical simulations, get used to using it in suboptimal conditions, with an elevated heart rate and train your reflexes, your fast aim, fast load/reload and even longer range accuracy.
That’s why I like the Browning so much, it’s fun to shoot. And I know that by actually using it I will be more effective with it than I would be with a weapon with better specs when I need to take that one shot that actually matters.